The conversation about who’s to blame for the financial meltdown continues. Forbes recently ran a piece asking whether we should blame the business schools, the graduates themselves, or the companies that hire business school graduates.
Much of the article is the normal chatter about how the typical business school curriculum places too much emphasis on shareholder value and not enough on improving the community around the enterprise. While we agree with lots of these points, it’s hard to argue that this trend in management education alone contributed to the problems our economy now faces. It is one ingredient of the problem, for certain, but we’re wary of anyone who believes that the few hundred hours a young professional spends in some some finance courses in business are enough to steer that person towards financial self-destruction.
Michael Ervolini made the following point, which nicely sums up an argument that we’ve made previously:
B-schools serve a purpose to provide talented employees that have received some minimum training for their career. You can not expect too much from a two-year stint, however, even at the most prestigious of programs. This is particularly the case with an average of only 18 months actually on campus.
While business schools certainly need to take responsibility for the quality of the business leaders they’re putting out in the market, the hiring companies’ jobs have only just begun once they hire these grads. That’s why companies such as General Electric and Procter & Gamble are so successful so consistently — because of the value that they place on training and personal development in their future leaders. This won’t change no matter what new curriculum changes the world’s top business school implement. These companies have made training and managerial development a strategic asset, and it’s one that will continue to generate terrific returns for these companies for years to come.